Wednesday, September 28, 2022
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Sri Lanka blocks Yuan Wang-Spy ship’s visit easing Indian tensions

In a new twist soothing the tensions between China and India Indian ocean maritime security, Sri Lanka has asked China to indefinitely delay a visit by a ship with long-range scanning capabilities that can be used to map defense installations and help the Chinese military’s strategic planning.

Following a strong protest by India, Sri Lanka has blocked the proposed visit by a Chinese “spy vessel’’ to the Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka.

In an official communication, the Lankan foreign ministry asked the Chinese embassy in Colombo to defer the arrival of the ship “until further consultations, official sources said.


The Yuan Wang 5 is en route from the Chinese port of Jiangyin and due in the Chinese-run Sri Lankan port of Hambantota on Thursday, according to analytics website MarineTraffic.

It is described as a research and survey vessel, but according to CNN-News18 is a dual-use spy ship, employed for space and satellite tracking and with specific usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

India lodged a verbal protest with Sri Lanka President Ranil Wimasinghe , while a spokesman for New Delhi’s Foreign Ministry said the government “carefully monitors any developments having a bearing on India’s security and economic interests, and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them.”

President Wickremesinghe assured political party leaders on Friday that the controversial visit will not go ahead as planned.

Earlier this week, Colombo appeared to brush aside Indian concerns, saying the vessel was coming only to refuel and replenish supplies and would not undertake any work in Sri Lankan waters.

Sri Lanka gave the green light for the Yuan Wang 5 to call at the Chinese-built and controlled Hambantota Port in the south, expecting the ship to stay from Aug. 11 to 17.

India, however, made it clear that it is unhappy about the prospect of the vessel and its advanced surveillance systems docking in its backyard.

Prior to Saturday’s reports, Col. Nalin Herath, a spokesman for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense, had told Nikkei that local authorities approved China’s request for permission to dock based on the “standard procedure.”

He stressed that this was “not the first Chinese naval ship to come to Sri Lanka,” and that vessels from a range of countries including India and the U.S. have also called in the past.

The colonel said China declared the visit would be for replenishing fuel and other supplies.

But some local and Indian experts found that curious, considering Sri Lanka is in the middle of a severe fuel crisis due to a lack of foreign currency. Within the country, fuel for vehicles is only available on a weekly quota basis.

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